Olympic Park in Sochi during 2014 Winter Olympics

This entry is part 9 of 23 in the series Russia 2014 Trip Report

This post will deviate a bit from the chronological order of our trip report. I figured I’d cover Olympic Park in a single post, even though we visited it two separate days.

Admission to Olympic Park is free, but only if you had tickets to an event taking place at Olympic Park that day. Since our event tickets were for a mountain event that day, we had to buy tickets to enter Olympic Park, which were about $7 each. It was an unusual setup. There were just two volunteers at a folding table with a cash box collecting money for the tickets. You gave them cash, you got the tickets. Ken described it as buying something at a church bake sale.

With our tickets at the entrance to Olympic Park!

I didn’t count, but there were probably 75 security lines to get into Olympic Park, so it moved very quickly. However, they were very thorough and went through my bag after the x-ray scan showed I had a loose camera battery. After we transited security, I turned around and took this photo of the huge security transiting area.

We began our walk through the giant Olympic Park

There were many corporate “exhibition” buildings that you could go into and shop, view Olympic-related displays, and perhaps even pick up some Olympic pins.

The Coca Cola Exhibit

The Samsung Exhibit

The Audi Exhibit, which included an awesome and steep track you could test drive an Audi car

An exhibit from a Russian bank, complete with an ice climbing wall!

An obstructed view of the Microsoft exhibit

As we walked towards the sports venues, we crossed these colorful pedestrian bridges. (You can see the Olympic flame in the distance)

 

On the other side of the bridge was the “Olympic Superstore.” The line simply to ENTER the superstore was THREE HOURS LONG. No matter what time of day, no matter how empty the park seemed, it was a huge line. And that was a problem because there were very few other places to buy Olympic souvenirs. Each sports venue had a little kiosk, but you could only get into the venue if you had tickets to an event. I’ll talk more about the Olympic souvenir-buying experience in some future posts because it was quite the ordeal.

 

Many countries also had “houses” that you could visit.

House of Switzerland

House of Canada.

 

And right next to the House of Canada was …

The USA House!

Unlike many of the other country houses, the USA house was manned by security, and only US Citizens were allowed inside, so we had to show our passports. But even then, we were limited to the gift shop area and a small platform that allowed some views of the rest of the house. The security guard explained that the USA House is intended to be a “safe place for the athletes and their families.” We definitely understood that, and we just walked around the gift shop for a while.

Do you remember those Ralph Lauren sweaters that the American athletes wore during the Opening Ceremony? They sold them at the store in the USA house.

And it could be yours for the bargain price of $595. And yes, that’s dollars, not some currency exchange mistake. Umm, I’ll pass.

We searched at length for food in Olympic Park. Eateries were limited to amusement park-type food stands that served very odd assortments like this.

 

After crossing the colorful bridges, we passed through these huge billboard-type displays.

(These two photos were taken a day apart. Notice the difference in crowds!)

 

And then we had an amazing view of that Olympic flame!

A wide-angle shot of the Olympic flame area. Towards the right, you can see a stage area. That is where the medal ceremonies took place each night. During popular Olympic events, they would also broadcast the sport on a huge TV on the stage.

 

I swear, Ken and I took about a hundred pictures from different angles of the flame. We went a bit overboard! I’ll spare you all the photos and just share these few favorites, like this one too.

 

The sports venues surrounded the flame.

 

In the distance from Olympic Park, you could see the beautiful snow-capped mountains.

 

And there were some weird English translations.

The territory of waste segregation anybody?

We definitely enjoyed our time at Olympic Park, but I will say, it was HUGE. So huge. Almost too big. And with only one entrance and exit, you had to walk all the way back to the beginning of the park after taking such a long walk to get to the venues once you were ready to leave. It was about a 30 minute walk if you didn’t make any other stops. Crazytown.

As we left though, the park had a different feel at night, with all of its vibrant lights and colors.

(The huge billboard things I mentioned earlier. Not sure what else to call them)

 

I chuckled at the apostrophe mistake at the Russia House.

And after our second visit, we said farewell to Olympic Park!


4 Comments

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